Current Law Commissioners
There are five Commissioners. The Chair is a Court of Appeal Judge and is appointed through separate mechanisms. The other four Commissioners are all appointed through the Public Appointments system.
Each Commissioner covers a particular area of the Law:
Nicholas Paines KC, Commissioner for Public Law and the Law in Wales
Professor Nicholas Hopkins, Commissioner for Property, Family and Trust Law
Professor Penney Lewis, Commissioner for Criminal Law
Professor Sarah Green, Commissioner for Commercial and Common Law
The role of the Law Commissioner
Law Commissioners play an important and influential part in the evolution of the law in England & Wales. Their role is not confined to the academic task of drafting reports. It is a much bigger job than just that. Commissioners are directly involved in discussions with Ministers and officials and with Parliamentary Counsel and they play an active role in the process of steering legislation through Parliament. Commissioners take a leading role in engaging with the public and the press and media in relation to their projects at seminars, roundtables, conferences, during one to one meetings and on social media. They participate in “peer review” exercises whereby all the Commissioners and the Chair discuss and agree the key policy issues arising out of each project; it is an important feature of our work that all Commission reports are published as the work of the Commissioners and the Chair collectively.
Each Commissioner works closely with a Team Manager, a senior lawyer who provides direction and support to the team of lawyers and research assistants, who in turn make up the individual teams working on each project. Commissioners are closely involved in leading a body of exceptionally bright and talented lawyers and researchers who will look to their Commissioner for on-going direction and support. The atmosphere within the Commission is collegiate.
Who can be a Commissioner?
Whenever we recruit, we are anxious to look to as broad and diverse a pool of talent as we possibly can to find our new appointments. It might be a statement of the obvious but our work, over the next few years, will take place in a challenging constitutional, technical, economic and social climate. The Law Commission must keep abreast of developments and remain relevant. Commissioners are central to that endeavour.
Commissioners will have exceptional academic ability. They may well have areas of experience and expertise but equally important is that they are intellectually curious and enthusiastic about turning their abilities to issues and topics which they might not be so familiar with.
Traditionally, Law Commissioners have been senior Professors, judges, top QCs or leading partners in law firms. But we wish to emphasise that we will always seek to look well beyond our traditional recruiting grounds. We want to encourage those who might never have considered themselves to be “Law Commission” material to apply. Please do not be deterred if the process of law reform is unfamiliar territory. There will be few candidates who can demonstrate existing abilities and competences in this area and we do not expect applicants to have existing experience in law reform. We look for individuals with potential, who will relish the experience of learning new skills on the job.
The following information is repeated from the Candidate pack from the last recruitment round and should therefore be taken as a guide only.
In order to be considered for appointment as a Law Commissioner, you must meet the criteria in section 1(2) of the Law Commissions Act 1965, which requires you to be the holder of a judicial office, or a person who has a general qualification within the meaning of section 71 of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990, or a teacher of law in a University.
Commissioner appointments are open to British or Commonwealth citizens, British Dependent Territories citizens, British Nationals (Overseas) citizens, British protected persons, European Economic Area (EEA) nationals or to those of other member states, and to certain non-EEA family members. Commissioners must have rights of residence in the UK.
Those considering becoming a Law Commissioner will need to demonstrate that they have:
- excelled in their chosen field of law and commitment to the importance of delivering effective law reform.
- the ability to think creatively to resolve complex legal problems and to take reasoned decisions, including a keen interest in the challenges and opportunities presented by emerging technologies.
- excellent oral and written communication skills, with the ability to present complex ideas to a diverse range of audiences, including members of the public.
- an open-minded approach with a willingness to think flexibly and consult widely before reaching firm conclusions.
- awareness of the diverse needs and backgrounds of those affected by the work of the Commission and of colleagues and staff within the Commission, including a desire to learn about and engage with Whitehall, Parliament, Ministers and a diverse range of stakeholders.
- a keen interest in leadership, both of people and the strategic direction of the organisation.
Other important information
The following is a brief overview of the terms of office, although they are not exhaustive and are subject to change:
- Commissioners are appointed on a full-time basis.
- The appointment is made by the Lord Chancellor for an initial period of five years.
- Re-appointment may be considered for a further term of up to five years, subject to the discretion of the Lord Chancellor.
- Commissioners will be expected to spend a majority of their time at the Commission’s offices in Central London.
- The salary is currently £123,460.
- Annual leave, excluding public holidays, is 30 days per year.
- As the office of Commissioner is full-time, paid outside work may be undertaken only with the agreement of the Lord Chancellor.
- Travel expenses will not be paid for journeys from home to the Commission, however, they will be paid for travel undertaken while on Commission business.
- The Lord Chancellor may terminate an appointment at any time on the grounds of incapacity or misbehaviour.
- A Commissioner may resign their office at any time. However, a Commissioner is expected to complete at least three years of their five-year appointment before applying for another appointment.
The role of Commissioner is a demanding full-time position, however, we are keen to offer flexibility wherever possible, for example through competitive annual leave and elements of home-working.
Commissioner Diversity Work Shadowing Scheme
Interested in the Commissioner role? You may be eligible to shadow one of our current Commissioners through our Diversity Work Shadowing Scheme.